The challenge is to make salad the main event. I love this challenge because I used to make boring salads. But no more. When making a salad, consider the colors and textures. We eat with our eyes too, remember that. Salads need varying flavors, freshness and a crunchiness too, this adds to the textures.
Using fresh ingredients and varying the salad greens and veggies, you can make salad the main event and no longer have boring salads.
First thing is to prep the chicken for this salad. I heated my oven to 425 degrees F and added butter and the paprika spices.
Butter and paprika go so well together. I used chicken tenderloins and they only take about 15 minutes to bake. Be sure to allow the chicken to cool at least 10 to 15 minutes before slicing and the chicken tastes great served cold on the salad.
I used fresh ingredients to make a homemade ranch dressing – who doesn’t remember ranch dressing when they were a kid? This is comfort food and making it fresh at home, I don’t think I can buy the bottle again.
I just put all of the ingredients including fresh dill, fresh chives and fresh Italian parsley into a jar that has a sealed lid and shake until all of the ingredients are combined and I’m all done!
TIP: Make the ranch dressing a day ahead so your salad making for a lunch or a weeknight meal goes even faster!
The Preserva® system in my KitchenAid® French Door Refrigerator works magic when it comes to storing my salad ingredients and my ranch dressing. I can buy the ingredients a few days ahead and know that my salad ingredients will stay fresh and my dressing will stay fresh for up to 5 to 7 days in the fridge! It’s pretty impressive, considering my old refrigerator used to freeze my produce!
True story: the other day, I found a bowl of chopped olives uncovered in the refrigerator. Curtis had put them right after he made his tacos for dinner and forgot all about them. If I hadn’t seen them, I wouldn’t have known. Just an example of how fresh everything stays in my KitchenAid refrigerator and how the Preserva system keeps odors neutralized.
This salad makes me happy, honestly! There’s crunch from the pumpkin seeds, the carrots and the celery. The chicken and the bacon gives it great flavor and I just love the ranch dressing!
What’s even better is…it’s so versatile, you can substitute with your favorite salad greens and your favorite vegetables! In the recipe below, I shared different substitutions. You can serve salads on a plate already prepped or put ingredients in different bowls and serve like a buffet so everyone can choose their favorite ingredients and build their own salads!
Smoked Paprika Chicken Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing
Makes 4 small servings
For the Smoked Paprika Chicken
1 pound chicken tenderloins
1 Tablespoon salted butter, melted
1 Tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Homemade Ranch Dressing
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped small
1 Tablespoon fresh chives, chopped small
1 Tablespoon fresh dill, chopped small
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
salt & pepper
For the rest of the salad
handfuls of romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
handfuls of baby spinach, washed
handfuls of arugula, washed
1 small tomato, chopped
1 carrot, washed, peeled and chopped
1 celery heart, washed and chopped
cheddar cheese, shredded or peeled with a vegetable peeler
1/4 to 1/3 cup roasted & salted pumpkin seeds
2-3 slices bacon, cooked & cut into bits
For the Paprika Chicken
Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Line baking sheet with foil. Place chicken into a medium-sized glass bowl and pour melted butter on top. Make sure butter is evenly distributed over chicken. Mix paprika, garlic powder and salt together in a small prep bowl. Spread evenly over chicken and place on top of baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Allow chicken to rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.
TIP: This can be done a day ahead and the chicken can be served on the salad cold.
For the Homemade Ranch Dressing
Prepare ranch dressing ingredients and place all ingredients into a jar with a sealed lid. Close lid and screw tightly. Shake until ingredients are thoroughly mixed together. Add salt & pepper to taste. Place in the refrigerator while preparing salad ingredients.
Store in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days.
Assemble the salad
Prep and chop vegetables and lettuces. Arrange salad on 2 to 4 plates or as a buffet so guests can pick and choose ingredients. Serve with homemade ranch dressing.
Other salad ingredient options:
Use your favorite greens!
Instead of pumpkin seeds, try walnuts or sunflower seeds
Instead of carrots or celery, try cucumbers or sliced radishes
Instead of chicken, try sliced hard boiled eggs
Instead of cheddar cheese, try grilled/baked tofu or provolone cut into strips
Instead of tomatoes, try red or green bell peppers
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*